March is National Nutrition Month! Information from nationalnutritionmonth.org www.nationalnutritionmonth.org states that National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This movement began in 1973 and became a month long campaign in 1980. The theme of this year’s campaign is Bite into a healthy lifestyle.
As a physician, I would love to say that I have mastered the art of eating right, however that would not be the truth. In fact, I have struggled to eat healthy my entire life. I was a child-picky eater turned into an adult-picky eater. I have to confess that it’s only within the last year or two that my plate has began to look more colorful, more leafy and less unhealthy. Speaking about my plate, choosemyplate.gov is a great plate to start when looking for resources to help you eat healthier. This website, developed in 2011, provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information. MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a familiar image – a place setting for a meal.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that building a healthy plate is easy when you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great way to add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber. All this is packed in fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and fat. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 1⁄2 cups of vegetables your daily goal. Try the following tips to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day. If you have a busy lifestyle like mine, you have probably found that it’s easier to simply go through a drive through and get a burger and fries, and a milkshake too. But, there are some tips for eating healthy on the run. This includes taking time to look over menus and make careful selections. One thing that I have been doing is making sure I check how many calories are listed for each item. Also look for menu terms that can mean less fat and calories such as baked, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted or steamed. Consider splitting your order and sharing an extra large main course with a friend or taking half of that sandwich or meal home for another meal.
Recently, I attended a conference on obesity and I gained more knowledge that I hope to use to better care for my patients. One vital tidbit that I learned is that loosing as little as 5% of body weight can lower blood pressure, improve diabetes and promote well- being. Another important fact about achieving a healthy weight is that it is a lifelong lifestyle change. Short-term attempts are always less successful. Goals should also be realistic. Make changes step-by-step. Begin by incorporating healthier foods and slowly increasing activity level. It is recommended that you get two and half hours of moderate exercise weekly. But, you can start by doing 10 minutes of an activity that you enjoy and building up. Remember, if you currently are not active, check with your doctor before starting and exercise program.
There are many good tips and suggestions on nationalnutrionmonth.org. Also, check out choosemyplate.gov and eatright.org for eating plans, recipes and helpful instruction to get you on your way to eating healthier. Don’t forget to speak with you doctor about your concerns and enroll their support.